Keeping Up The Conversations On Blogs

commentsMany thoughts have run through my head–which have not been nice. But honestly! 4.00 am in the morning is not the time for people in a nearby room, when staying in a hotel, to be having in depth conversations. Yes, they woke me up and the conversation lasted 2 hours…@*#!

Good new! Read all my latest post feeds, answered a few emails, twittered and it is still early so apologies but this post has been on my mind for days so it is an opportune time to write it! Michele Martin has asked the question on how can we “Facilitate Conversations BETWEEN Commenters on Our Blogs?” which was inspired by Skelliewag. On most blog the author posts and then commenters respond to the author but what we really want is the author and commenters all interacting with one another.

Now Skelliewag (diagram on the left) suggests that true conversations, which is what we want to achieve, is when we all, author and commenters interact. I would have loved to expand this diagram, but am on my Mac, and can not work out an application to use (HELP!!!). It really needs extra diagram below that shows not only interaction between commenters and author on a post but between posts on commenters blogs and the authors blog! Remember that blogging is all about having conversations not talking to yourself!

For example — Michele originally posted the topic as a discussion thread in Better Blog community then converted it into a post on her blog…we all then interacted and posted our thoughts on her blog and in the forum..then readers like Atul Sabnis and myself responded in more depth on our blogs. Now this is true conversation in action and ideally this is the type of interaction we want to encourage, where applicable.

Now if you are interested in looking at ways to increase interaction conversations on your blog I strongly recommend you check out all the links I have provided above. Here are my additional tips:

  • Obviously you need to write posts that make people want to continue talking about the topic –not easy and unrealistic to expect with every post. However if you write a good post, that makes people think, or that challenges their views it will happen.
  • Show interest in actually having conversations by making time to comment on other people’s blogs.
  • Need to be very effective at managing your comments on other people’s blogs. I use co-mment, which tracks my comments, and it notifies me automatically by sending the comment to my Google Reader account. This way when a person comments on a post that I have commented on I can choose to immediately respond back if I want. Co-mment means I can effectively manage my conversations, and they can be near instantaneous. Read this post on how to use co-mment like I do!
  • Respond to comments on your own blog! This is incredibly important — if people take the time to comment on your posts you need to be acknowledging them by: commenting back on their comments; visiting their blogs and commenting on their posts; when possible, sending them an email to thank them (time for me can be an issue so I try but it is not always practical); and if appropriate turn the comments into a post. Now I have to currently subtract marks from myself for commenting back on my own posts cross.jpg apologies to all my readers. I do comment back — and I do value comments. This week I have been really busy and thought I had responded when I hadn’t! The trouble is I am having the conversations in Twitter, Second Life, Forums and on other peoples blogs so often are commenting back and so it is easy to think you have…. mmm I will need to work harder for my tick! Tips, for what works for you, most welcome!
  • Encourage people to subscribe to your blog obviously conversations are not going to happen if people aren’t reading your blog….I do try to make my readers aware of how to subscribe to my blog but it is not easy. If you are reading this blog and not using a Feed Reader — you really need to because it will save you time! Here is my information on how to set up Google Reader so that you can manage reading blogs.
  • Keep writing! It takes time to build up readers....doesn’t happen overnight. But conversations are not going to happen if you don’t write post.

And if you’re enjoying this blog, please consider subscribing for free.

16 thoughts on “Keeping Up The Conversations On Blogs

  1. Sue, a great post, so much info!
    First of all, hope the conversation that kept you awake was a good one, extra juicy!

    Also thanks for the Google Reader resource, as you know I need to work on this.

    The diagram of how to create conversations via a blog is interesting too, reminds me of the Connected Learning Community project last year or year before where the aim was to connect and converse via our blogs. Hard to crack but getting there I think via blogs like yours!

    Following MLearn 07 via twitter as I write – great initiative Sue!

    Anne Paterson Reply

  2. Thanks for that reinforcement of my feeling about blogs. Being new to blogging, I wasn’t too sure of the ‘etiquette’ ie was it permissible to ask questions and interact with other people’s comments. But as Marguerite said, it is time consuming. What do you feel are the benefits of this time investment-if its a part of an education course, I can see the benefits but as a voluntary thing…..?

    Sarah Stewart Reply

  3. Sue
    great to see that I can follow conversations through the co.mment. I’ve downloaded and installed. Great little productivity app.

    Kate Foy Reply

  4. Another tip… ask questions… like:

    “What tips do you have for increasing the conversations on blogs?”

    It’s nice when we are asked. It’s nice to know the author isn’t treating their blog as a one-way publishing medium coming from a position of assumed authority, and is able to humble themselves and admit they don’t have all the answers and we are all in this together. (Something I’m still learning!)

    Sean FitzGerald Reply

  5. Your security word for this comment was “whoa”…very appropriate.

    The issue with blogs and group communication is that blog comment sections aren’t really structured well for those types of communications.

    Using your use of co-mment as a great example…blogs weren’t meant for continuous group conversation out of the box. If they were, you wouldn’t need to use co-mment to aid you.

    Secondly, while I may be interested in what the writer has written (redundant, I know) on their blog, I may not be interested in what other readers are commenting or even want to take the time to read their comments. Perhaps it’s just me, but if there are upwards of 10 or more comments already written to a post, I think twice before taking the time to write something…unless I really, really, want to make a specific and assumably unique point. Otherwise I assume that anything general that I may say, has already been covered by the previous comments.

    To me, the comment areas of blogs aren’t for long term or expansive conversation. They aren’t forums, and they lack the structure for these types of conversations.

    …and when I consider jumping from blog to blog to blog trying to keep up with one topic of conversations…well…my head hurts as I consider the above issues to become exponentially obvious…and painful.

    Just my two cents. Add 97 more and you could get yourself a handburger!

    Joel McDonald Reply

  6. Now I am determined to get my tick back so decided that whenever possible I need to respond on the same day!

    Marguerite
    Was no problem dropping past your blog. If Cammie Bean had not set me straight on how to use co-mment I would not have known. So when I saw your comment I decided to drop past your blog to help out.

    Definitely having a lively blog takes work but it is worth it and fortunately I have lots of great topics I can talk about.

    Ann
    Sorry to say they talked loudly enough to wake me but not enough to hear what they were actually saying.

    Glad you liked my tips and look forward to hearing good news on the Google Reader front! Hopefully the mlearn2007 twitter account will get exciting when it gets started…. and agreed the diagram is very similar to many in the past.

    Sarah
    Thanks for pointing out the aspect of blogging etiquette. Often you are in a place where you forget that you assume too much of your readers. I am still myself working out etiquette. Ideally I should respond to a couple of comments at a time the trouble was in this case they all came through at the same time and I was out touring Melbourne so had no access to comment back.

    Well for me I am so used to engaging in commenting that I don’t see it as time consuming I just see it as part of if I want to make connections then I need to make the effort. Co-mment comes into my Google Reader so it is really quick to click on the link and add more information to the comment.

    Benefits are the connections you make with people. Others know that I value conversations and willingly help–this means they willingly help me.. I have lots of people I network with around the World that help me out as a result and I return the favour.

    Kate
    I expect you to write a post on why co-mment is so good. I hope you find it useful like I did — and thank Cammy–she rocks!

    Sean
    Good question..and I should have included that when we write posts we need to use questions that invoke people to want to respond. And good point as to why we ask questions. I definitely don’t wish to be seen as an expert –rather a human that is happy to help out but does not always have all the information.

    Joel and Graham — apologies I am being told I have to go to dinner — we are meeting people… I will post my comment back when I get back — even if it is really late. Please forgive me –running really late!

    Sue Waters Reply

  7. As promised Joel and Graham I am back! Sorry about that but am in Melbourne at a conference.

    Joel
    You are correct! Blog comments sections aren’t well structured to manage conversations. Some people do try to make them work more like forums but I personally find that it puts me off. And it is incredibly hard to have group conversations — it does happen but is normally the exception not the rule.

    I am also like you — if there is excessive comments it can be overwhelming to read. And in terms of following the conversations I am more likely to if I am trying to clarify who said what is there is a debate going on.

    Graham
    Thanks for the link I will check it out thoroughly when I get back to Perth. Was nice meeting you yesterday.

    Sue Waters Reply

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